Case C-97/17 European Commission v. Republic of Bulgaria – 26 April 2018

The CJEU has found that Bulgaria breached Article 4(1) of the Wild Birds Directive 2009/147/EC, by failing to include the entire Important Bird Area covering the Rila Mountains as a Special Protection Area (SPA).

The CJEU held that when classifying sites as SPAs, Member States must classify the most suitable territories in number and size for the conservation of these species. A Member State cannot classify manifestly less than the number and total area of the sites considered to be the most suitable SPAs on the ground that it has discretion as regards the choice of SPAs.

The Court also found that the Commission was correct to take the view that the European Important Bird Area inventory was the most up-to-date and accurate reference for assessing whether Bulgaria had classified a sufficient number and area of territories as SPAs. Although the inventory was not legally binding it contained scientific evidence making it possible to assess whether a Member State had complied with its obligations.

The judgment can be accessed here.

Domestic news

This article contains a general summary of developments and is not a complete or definitive statement of the law. Specific legal advice should be obtained where appropriate.